Have you ever heard the tale of or friend Rip Van Winkle? Well now, you can share his story the next time you are sitting around the camp fire roasting marshmellows with your friends an family.
In a village near the Catskill Mountains, Rip Van Winkle led a carefree life in a tumble-down old house with his children and his wife. On a bench beside the Village Inn, through a long summer’s day, Rip and his friends would sit and talk the hours away. Rip was a special friend of the village girls and boys. He flew their kites and played their games and mended all their toys. “While you mend toys,” cried his wife in a rage, “the roof of our house is leaking!” But Rip and his dog took to the woods as his angry spouse was speaking.
As the mountains cast their shadows, and the sun sank low in the sky, Rip beheld a man with a keg climbing the path nearby. Rip hastened to offer assistance and much to his surprise, he found a dwarf-like fellow with flowing beard and beady eyes.
Not a word had the stranger spoken as they climbed to the mountaintop. Sounds of thunder rumbled and rolled when the little man motioned Rip to stop. The peals of thunder grew closer, rumbling, rumbling, rolling. And Rip saw through the trees an open spot where more little men were bowling! They were dressed like his companion. There must have been eight or ten. They stared at Rip in silence, then turned to their game again. The ball made a noisy rumble as it rolled along the ground. Then it knocked the nine-pins down with a crashing thunderous sound.
Rip grew weary of watching this odd company at play. He sat down to rest, but alas, fell sound asleep right away! The birds were singing when Rip woke up and the sun was shining bright. “What excuse shall I give my wife for sleeping here all night?”
He didn’t know that he was old with a beard that was long and white, or that he had slept for twenty years instead of just one night. He whistled and called for his dog, but Wolf was nowhere about. All he could hear were the echoes returning his whistle and shout.
So Rip picked up his rusty gun and hungry now for food, he hobbled slowly home again in a sad and troubled mood. When he reached the village people stopped to stare, for Rip was a sight to behold, with his raggedy clothes and long white hair.
“Does nobody know Rip Van Winkle?” he asked, his eyes were filled with tears. “Rip Van Winkle!” said two or three, “has been gone for twenty years!”
“It is Rip Van Winkle.” Said an old woman as she tottered to his side. “Where have you been these twenty years? And here are your children!” she cried.
On a bench beside the Village Inn, as in the days long past, Rip would tell his story to strangers when they asked. To this day when the village children hear the thunder rumbling, rolling, they say that the little men are up in the mountains bowling.
Adapted from Washington Irving’s legend by Dorothy Bell Briggs, Rand McNally and Co.